Over the last few years of conning I have noticed something. I know… there are a lot of things one notices at horror conventions. But this made me feel warm and fuzzy….not scared and dizzy. I noticed that many of the horror conventions I was attending had partnered with various charities. This may have just been new to me. I tend to get the tunnel vision when I am at a convention so it could be possible that this is not a new thing at all. Either way, what a fantastic concept! The horror fan world is HUGE. People come from all over to see their favorite scream queen or masked slasher and their money spends just like everyone else’s, so why not?
My first one-on-one experience with a charitable organization at a convention was at the inaugural Walker Stalker Con last October in Atlanta, Ga. There I met Laura Richter, the founder of Friends and Fans for St. Jude. Seeing as she was a paranormal investigator she was able to merge her two worlds…love of all things scary and love for her fellow man. Her campaign, Raising Spirits for St. Jude, was so successful that it was repeated at Walker Stalker Con Chicago this March and will be present again at Walker Stalker Con Boston in June. I spoke with Laura recently and she had this to say..
As a paranormal investigator, I created the “Raising Spirits for St. Jude” campaign in 2010 to raise money and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the ghost community, which quickly evolved into the horror genre. My goal is to accentuate the positive impact and giving nature of the people involved in these areas – and demonstrate how much the industries support charities. I took that campaign “on the road” two years ago with the convention circuit, where I host an interactive, family friendly exhibit booth at select events, accepting donations for St. Jude.
Growing up, I was intrigued by the subject of ghosts. Halloween was my favorite holiday, and I enjoyed scary movies and visiting haunted attractions. In fact, I still enjoy it today! I have found that most children are fascinated by the subject of ghosts and monsters and things that go bump in the night. It doesn’t matter if they are sick – children are still children.
Particularly heartwarming to me in the horror field is working with “monsters.” It doesn’t matter how terrifying, ugly, or sinister a monster is, when it comes to children, their demeanor changes. While a monster may be the face of horror, peel away the mask and you will find a person whose heart melts when it comes to helping kids. It is not monsters, but cancer that is the true scare. By working with this genre we are, in fact, attempting to take away the horrors of childhood cancer by doing what we can to support an organization that is finding cures and saving lives.
Another person who makes his presence known at conventions is Randy Fortunado, aka “Undead Randy.” Randy combined his love of zombies with the pain of losing a loved one to cancer and the “Shirt Off Our Back Against Cancer” campaign was born. Randy has since joined forces with Laura Richter from St. Jude and will be auctioning off an amazing one-of-a-kind hockey jersey and signatures from pretty much everyone from the cast of AMC’s The Walking Dead at the upcoming Walker Stalker Convention in Atlanta the weekend of October 17th. Randy had this to say about his reason to use horror as a springboard…
I noticed the “frenzy” around The Walking Dead and a resurgence in interest with the Paranormal and monsters.Young and old seem endeared again to the things that go bump in the night. I am also a huge sports fan and thought combing both horror and sports themed shirts and jersey would make the ideal pair for a great charity.
No matter the cause, an act of charity is just that. The fact that this market of “horrific” givers has been tapped into is pure genius. People who have long thought horror fans were “weird” and “evil” can now see that even monsters have a soft side. Be sure to open your still beating hearts and wallets, con goers…there are many out there that need your support!
Happy Conning (and giving)!